Saturday, September 12, 2015

Biblical Principles in Fasting (Part 4)

We have already seen that the Bible connects fasting is with prayer, but involves so much more! It is not simply abstaining from food. Fasting not only involves prayer, but repentance and the searching of our heart! If we are to fast, we must fast for the right reason and in the right way, so what is biblical fasting? Isaiah describes fasting as “afflicting one’s soul” (Is. 58:3).There must be a purpose to fasting if it is to be for the glory of God. The Bible does not give us the “how tos” of fasting. There are no specific regulations on fasting given or how often one should fast because like fasting and many other things in the Christian life fasting is a spiritual exercise not a mechanical procedure. But this does not mean that we should ignore or neglect fasting! When a person feels the need in their Christian life, it is good to fast. Fasting shows the sincerity of our prayers. Prayer and fasting is not to get my will done in heaven, but to God’s will done on earth!

While fasting is not a mechanical procedure there are biblical principles that should guide us as we fast. First off, as we have seen from Scripture we should determine the length of our fast. It is also good to begin by refraining from solid food, but drink liquids. When the Lord Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness (Mt. 4:2), we read, “after-wards He was hungry.” We do not read that He was thirsty. 

Third, fasting should always be accompanied by prayer as we seen throughout the Bible! Next we should begin like David by repenting, “When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting that became my reproach” (Ps. 69:10). We must start with the right attitude of heart before God or our fasting is useless before God! This is what God warned Jeremiah, “When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them”(Jer. 14:12). Fasting should begin with confessing and repenting of my sin and asking the Lord to “search me, O God, and know my heart, try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting” and to “cleanse me from secret faults” (Ps. 139:23-24, 19:12).

The fifth that should accompany our fasting is we ought to pray specifically and continually. We have seen this through the many examples of fasting that we have looked at. Our prayers are to be faith (Mk. 11:24), in the will of God (1 Jn. 5:14-15), and without wavering (Jm. 1:6)! Fasting should also be accompanied by the word of God. Since prayer and fasting are both an exercise of faith they should be accompanied by the Word of God since “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). While fasting, it is good to memorize key passages of Scripture. Lastly fasting ought to lead us to give thanks and praise to the Lord. Like Anna who “served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Lk.2:37-38).

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